Gomez-Arcos, Augustin. “The Carnivorous Lamb”, Arsenal Pulp Press, 2007.
Haunting and Weirdly Unusual
Arsenal Pulp Press of Vancouver, Canada has been resurrecting gay and lesbian literature with Little Sister’s Classics series. The newest addition is Augustin Gomez-Arcos’ “The Carnivorous Lamb”, written in 1975, which was translated into English in 1984 (from the original French). Gomez-Arcos was a Spanish anarchist, a dramatist and a playwright who self-exiled to France where he wrote primarily about Franco’s Spain.
This book is an allegory about that period and centers on a young gay male who comes of age within a troubled family—his mother abhors him, his father cannot be bothered with him and ignores him. He does have a brother that loves him deeply.
The young man is the narrator and the carnivorous lamb. He begins his story when he was thirteen and when his innocence is lost. It is the 1950’s when he, the younger of two sons is kept in the shelter of his home by his overbearing mother and at 13 he manages to begin to break away. He has a tutor, a strict disciplinarian and a family priest who is intent upon seeing that the boy reach adulthood by the right path. He, however, feels that he must rebel against those that oppress him and as he comes of age, he does so as a reaction to his mother and father and to the authority of church and state.
It is not an easy to reach maturity and as we read the tale of the family, we see that is political satire of the time. Gomez-Arcos not only takes on Spain but the Catholic Church as well. He does so with humor that disguises the true horrors and the tyrannical rule of Federico Franco. Likewise the book deals with the repression of religion and the structure of the family. The concept of authority is blown away and in its place we get identity and liberty as the author defies all in beautiful and provocative ways. This is a book not only to be read for the excitement of reading a masterpiece but it is to be cherished as a document that has returned to us from the dead.